An incredible finish to the £460,000 tournament saw Gurney show incredible resilience as he fought back from 9-8 down to win the final three legs for one of the biggest wins of his career.
There were tears of joy for emotional Gurney, who clinched the £100,000 title with a spectacular 85 checkout on the bullseye to end Van Gerwen’s three-year reign as champion in the event.
“I’m over the moon with that win, it means to much to me,” said former World Grand Prix champion Gurney.
“That was the best bullseye I’ve ever hit in my life, I was determined to make sure we didn’t go to a deciding leg and I was relieved to see it go in.
“I knew I was playing well, I was hitting everything in practice and after a sticky start I straightened up my throw and I grew in confidence from there.
“To win this tournament is an unbelievable feeling and I’m going to enjoy this moment.”
A tight opening to the final saw the first 12 legs all won on throw, before Van Gerwen took out 88 for a first break of the contest, only for a tenacious Gurney to break straight back.
World number one Van Gerwen broke throw once again to go 9-8 up, only for Gurney to show nerves of steel, taking out 88 in two darts to level at 9-9.
Gurney took out 32 to hold throw and go within a leg of the title, before a stunning 85 finish on the bull sealed a sensational win for the world number five.
For Van Gerwen it was a first televised ranking final defeat in 15 matches, but the Dutchman was keen to acknowledge the achievement of his rival.
“I think he played a phenomenal game,” said Van Gerwen, who avenged his Grand Slam of Darts loss to Gary Anderson in the semi-finals.
“To be fair I think I let myself down and Daryl punished me because my performance was not 100 per cent.”
A dramatic day at the Butlin’s Minehead Resort had also seen Gurney overcome Chris Dobey and Danny Noppert to book his spot in a third TV final.
Van Gerwen and Anderson produced a thriller in the semi-finals, while Stephen Bunting, Jonny Clayton and Steve Lennon – on his 25th birthday – were knocked out alongside Dobey in the quarter-finals.
Belgium’s Dimitri Van den Bergh also enjoyed success on the Minehead stage as he retained the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship title, defeating Martin Schindler 6-3 in the final.
Attention on the PDC circuit now switches to the build-up to the William Hill World Darts Championship, which will begin on December 13 at London’s Alexandra Palace.
2018 Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals
Friday November 23
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-4 Jelle Klaasen
Max Hopp 6-4 Steve West
Keegan Brown 6-3 Benito van de Pas
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Adam Hunt
Simon Whitlock 6-4 Kyle Anderson
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Robert Thornton
James Wade 6-4 Ross Smith
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Jamie Lewis
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Michael Barnard
Ryan Searle 6-2 Josh Payne
Nathan Aspinall 6-1 Martin Schindler
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Andrew Gilding
Steve Lennon 6-2 Ryan Joyce
Mervyn King 6-4 Simon Stevenson
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Richard North
Madars Razma 6-4 Mickey Mansell
Ian White 6-2 Scott Taylor
Gary Anderson 6-2 Alan Tabern
Cristo Reyes 6-1 Rob Cross
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright 6-2 Toni Alcinas
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Matthew Edgar
Michael Smith 6-0 Vincent van der Voort
Stephen Burton 6-5 Jermaine Wattimena
Joe Cullen 6-5 John Henderson
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Mark Webster
Ricky Evans 6-3 Jan Dekker
James Wilson 6-2 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Danny Noppert 6-3 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Chris Dobey 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Darren Webster 6-3 Jeffrey de Graaf
Steve Beaton 6-5 Kim Huybrechts
Saturday November 24
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Ryan Searle
James Wade 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
Chris Dobey 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Steve Lennon 6-5 Cristo Reyes
Gary Anderson 6-1 Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Keegan Brown
Peter Wright 6-2 Max Hopp
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Stephen Bunting 6-4 Madars Razma
Gabriel Clemens 6-5 James Wilson
Ricky Evans 6-2 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Stephen Burton 6-3 Darren Webster
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Ian White
Danny Noppert 6-5 Mervyn King
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Michael Smith
Joe Cullen 6-4 Steve Beaton
Chris Dobey 10-9 James Wade
Gary Anderson 10-2 Joe Cullen
Michael van Gerwen 10-4 Stephen Burton
Stephen Bunting 10-9 Peter Wright
Steve Lennon 10-7 Gabriel Clemens
Daryl Gurney 10-6 Brendan Dolan
Jonny Clayton 10-5 Ricky Evans
Danny Noppert 10-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
Sunday November 25
Daryl Gurney 10-2 Chris Dobey
Danny Noppert 10-7 Stephen Bunting
Gary Anderson 10-4 Jonny Clayton
Michael van Gerwen 10-3 Steve Lennon
Daryl Gurney 11-3 Danny Noppert
Michael van Gerwen 11-9 Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney 11-9 Michael van Gerwen